Superstars crush England to become millionaires

Published: Sunday, November 2, 2008, 12:08 [IST]
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StandordST.Johns: The West Indies-based Stanford Superstars became instant millionaires when they trounced England by 10 wickets in the richest - and probably shortest - cricket match on Saturday.

For a winner-takes-all US$20 million bankrolled by American billionaire Allen Stanford, the Superstars routed England for 99 off 19.5 overs, then easily topped that by flaying 101 without loss inside 13 overs.

Each of the victorious 11 Superstars - a West Indies all-star side - pocketed $1 million.

Fittingly, captain Chris Gayle ended the match in grand style by hoisting an Andrew Flintoff full toss over long-on to send his teammates racing onto the field to celebrate, and the crowd into a frenzy.

England will go home with nothing, but know it has four more annual cracks at the cash after Stanford put up $100 million to fund his five-year Stanford Super Series.

Watched by 10,000 at cozy Stanford Ground and an estimated 700 million via TV worldwide, England produced a woeful batting display of careless shots. Seizing the initiative given by their bowlers, and energized by the partisan crowd, Gayle and Andre Fletcher boldly attacked England.

Gayle whacked 65 off 42 balls, and along with his barrage of five sixes, he hit five more boundaries.

Fletcher, who made his West Indies one-day debut this year against Australia and hit a 66-ball 90 on Thursday, added 32 off 31 balls, including five fours.

The first over was inauspicious. Gayle almost ran out Fletcher off the first ball, and survived the third umpire's decision on a leg-before-wicket appeal.

But Fletcher cut loose in the second over when he spanked three consecutive boundaries off Test bowler Stuart Broad.

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England's other quick, Steve Harmison, gave up 22 in the fifth over, including a pair of sixes by Gayle.

After that, the Superstars were 49 without loss and it looked like they might not need half of their overs.

Gayle also roughed up spinners Samit Patel and Graeme Swann, whom he belted for sixes over long-on as he reached his half-century off just 33 balls.

Earlier, Superstars allrounder Darren Sammy, who was named man of the match, set the tone for the superb performance in the field by capturing 2-13, including bowling England captain and danger man Kevin Pietersen for seven.

Before Sammy's intervention, pacer Jerome Taylor rocked England by removing openers Ian Bell and Matt Prior in the space of three balls in the fourth over.

Taylor forced Bell to drag a yorker onto his stumps on seven, and knocked back Prior's leg stump for 12 at 22-2.

Owais Shah, on four, skied a pull shot off seamer Darren Sammy to deep midwicket at 29-3 in the sixth over, and two of the team's potential match-winners, Pietersen and Flintoff, could not stage a recovery.

After Kieron Pollard outfoxed Flintoff for 8 with a slower ball which brushed his off stump, half the side was out for 51 in the 12th over.


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